What do you want to achieve but also how do you want to feel?

Mission.  Goals.  Aims. Outcomes.  Actions.  Review.                                 

These are all words and processes that are embedded in my consultancy freelance work with clients.  Whether it be writing a funding application, reviewing or developing a service or programme of work.  There isn’t a day when I don’t touch upon these in my freelance work.  Once reviewed or set I ensure that there are appropriate systems in place to regularly monitor, review, evaluate – in effect hold them to account.  Makes sense, but do we all follow this for our freelancing businesses?  Not the small weekly actions or ‘to do’ lists but actual goals and aims about what we want our business to work towards?

We’ve discussed and thoughts have been shared about goals, having them in sight and accountability systems on our Twitter posts.  Some of you develop annual goals similar to New Year Resolutions and others have weekly goal setting.  Whichever works for you is good, just as long as you have them.  Simply you can’t achieve them if you don’t set them and you can’t achieve them if you don’t implement. But unlike New Year resolutions which have a failure rate of about 80% how can we ensure that we deliver on these goals when we, as freelancers, drive our own motivation; don’t have colleagues, a manager or committee holding us to account for delivering them; and the day to day work and income generation overrides available time to reflect, develop and review your freelance goals.

Many of these goals and New Year resolutions don’t work because they aren’t realistic and there are no mechanisms in place should they not be achieved.  These are some of our thoughts for consideration when developing goals

Be clear on what are your values.  Whilst passion doesn’t pay your bills, be clear about what is your vision for your freelancing business.  Not just about what you want it or the goals to achieve but also about how you want to feel as a result!  I’m sure you all gave this some thought when you started out.  Thinking about what drives you helps with thinking about the goals you want to achieve.  For many of us this is less about money but about what we want to achieve and feel either for ourselves (flexibility, more balanced, less stressed, etc.) or for our clients (support a range of behaviours or values, make a difference to their business, service users, etc.)  Don’t overlook that setting goals which revolve around your own wellbeing are just as important as those about the health of your business.

There are of course wider goals that you may wish to achieve whether they are around a particular product, service, financial income generation targets, client growth or your own growth as a freelancer/business owner.  Therefore, make sure that the goals you set are important to you, after all if they are you will be motivated to want to achieve them.

Be realistic though.  We all love to feel that we can change the world or at least the bit of the world we live in but we have to be realistic about the hours we have in our day and how much of that we assign to our work.  Break down the steps that are needed to achieving those goals.  By breaking them down into actions and timescales allows you to keep it manageable and makes those big goals more realistic.

Identify how you are going to reward yourself when you achieve a goal.  By both having something to aim towards but also by celebrating your achievement will help with the motivation to achieve the goal and future goals thereafter!  It took me a long time to share and celebrate successes and not feel guilty for rewarding myself but honestly it really is a motivator!

Keep a check on how you are achieving against them.  What internally can you do to keep a check such as build into your diary regular reviews, having a visible chart that you update?  Also what external checks can you build into this – accountability through support groups, having a mentor or coach.

Be flexible– the best laid plans and all that!  There can be setbacks, other priorities can take over, circumstances change and so too sometimes do your goals.  That’s fine.  Just review, refine and try and keep moving forward.  It’s not always about achievements but also sometimes about how it makes you feel!

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